Reality check; Wolves lose 106-98

Warriors Timberwolves Basketball

Alexey Shved took matters into his own hands in the fourth, posting career highs in points (22), shots attempted (17) and tied his career high of seven assists

3 Positives:

Jonah: Shved is slowly turning into the new Rubio. No, not like that. But Shved’s minutes and high usage in the fourth quarter is astounding. It’s awfully familiar to Rubio’s performances in the fourth quarters of last year’s early games. Adelman is showing a lot of trust in the young guard’s ability to control the offense in the clutch. And it’s working. The comebacks in the last two games are due in large part to Shved’s ability to work in the pick ‘n’ roll and find his own shot or create one for another, especially when he gets in the air. Shved’s getting better and better, and the timing couldn’t be better.

Tom: Derrick Williams the good. 23 points! 16 shots! Seven rebounds! 4 blocked shots! 1.05 ppp for the game! Ladies and gentlemen, the #2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Derrick Williams!

Derek: Oh, I know! The Timberwolves as a team did a pretty good job holding on to the ball, winning the turnover battle 17-12, 12-17…they had 12 turnovers. Which isn’t great but it really isn’t bad, either. Having that ability to hang on to the ball helps when you’re trying to do things like come back from a deficit or close out a game. And considering how many of the players on the court tonight were not starters, that’s a positive sign.

3 Negatives:

Jonah: Paging Luke Ridnour. The wily vet, who’s called Minnesota home for nearly three years now didn’t show up today. When the games start to inch towards a result, the Wolves need Ridnour to come up big. He’s proved he can do it before, and he’s certainly our best, most consistent three-point shooter, yet he was nowhere to be found tonight. His defense was pathetic, which is rather surprising because he’s been awfully scrappy all season long. But the Wolves certainly missed him and some potentially big contributions down the stretch tonight. Need him to show up next time this crap happens.

Tom: Derrick Williams the bad. Sure, it was great that he scored 23 points on 16 shots. Yeah his seven rebounds and four blocks were fun. But the majority of his 23 points came on long two-pointers, which will probably encourage him to continue taking that damn shot. And Williams’ seven rebounds didn’t really cut into Minnesota’s utter destruction on the boards. And Williams’ four blocks? Um. I watched the tape and no he didn’t, someone’s lying. Here’s one:

Here’s another:

Sorry. Not buying either of these.

Derek: How about the interior defense? Er, uh, I mean -efense, because there was no D involved whatsoever. The Warriors crushed the Wolves in points in the paint, 58-22, meaning they got over half of their points from high percentage opportunities. The problem carried over to the rebounding where the Dubs grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, giving them second chance opportunites, and likely, high percentage shots. I’m going to make myself feel better and give the Warriors some credit for their gameplan to make myself feel better here.

3 Observations:

Jonah: For two games in a row now, the Wolves have allowed their opponent to grab a big lead and force them to win the game. The fourth quarter comebacks have almost become standard and expected. But they’re completely unnecessary. Sure, they make for some really exciting basketball and League Pass Alerts, but who cares? The Wolves need to do a better job of amping up the pressure in the middle quarters instead of expecting a double-digit deficit entering the fourth. Believe me, it’ll make things a lot easier.

Tom: The most positive thing I can say about tonight’s game? It’s the last one for a while. The Wolves don’t have to take the court until Wednesday which will allow Barea, Pekovic and Roy all more time to heal. But it will also give Kirilenko some well-deserved rest after being asked to do basically everything for this team over the past few games.

Derek: Here’s the deal. I got off work at seven last night thinking I’d watch the game. And I did, until halftime when I fell asleep. Before I passed out the Wolves had let their decent lead dwindle to a small deficit, and when I woke up they were down double digits right before the come back started.

Whatever, that’s not what I care about.

We heard all offseason how the Timberwolves would be in the mix for a playoff spot with teams like the Warriors, Mavericks, Jazz…etc. and despite being shorthanded (or ridiculously injury-depleted) they’ve managed to either beat or come very close to beating each of those teams, aside from Utah of course. My point being is that the second-string Wolves have done very well against other teams’ starters. Well, aside from the Mavs not having Dirk. Even so, this team could be very, very, good if/when they get healthy.

Ok, I’m done now that I sound like a dumb homer.

Notes: No injuries to report. Hooray! Also, Josh Howard debuted in a Wolves uni tonight and came out with a real spark, grabbing a quick offensive rebound and hitting his first two shots. Then Adelman moved him to shooting guard and you could see he was caught off guard and confused. He finished that stretch 1-7 and a respectable 3-10 for the game. He’s definitely a contributor that can help this team especially in this time of high-need for able bodies.

Next up: The Wolves get four days of rest before they host Denver on Wednesday night, 7 pm.

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